This early founder of Dodge City was a freighter, Indian scout and buffalo hunter, all after serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.
George W. (Hoodoo) Brown was born on March 20, 1847 in Newton County, Missouri. His family left Missouri for Illinois after his father was threatened for being pro-North. In December 1863, Brown and his horse joined the Illinois Cavalry to fight for the North.
Towards the end of the Civil War he fought Indians in the Dakotas. He mustered out in Minnesota in October 1865. In 1866, he began his westward movement. For a time, he worked for famous Joseph G. McCoy in Abilene, Kansas.
He also ran ox teams, herded cattle into Colorado, served as an Army scout and cut timber for railroad ties before hunting buffalo. In the meantime, Brown married Sallie Lemon in 1867.
In 1872, Brown and his business partner, Charley Stewart, built the second permanent building on the site of Dodge City; a 14-square foot saloon from lumber hauled from Russell, Kansas.
It had a dirt floor and sat south of the railroad tracks. Whiskey cost them $2 per gallon and they sold it for 25 cents a drink.
In 1877, Brown opened a road ranch store near Meade Center. He got the idea for opening this business a when spending a very cold night on the Jones and Plummer Trail at a spot he thought would be an ideal place for a business to supply lodging, food, supplies and liquor to drovers and freighters. He built a soddy near the store which he moved his family into.
There was excitement at the road ranch in 1878 when Dull Knife's band of Cheyenne left the reservation in Oklahoma to go back home in the north. Out of concern for his family's safety, he evacuated his family to Dodge City.
Despite jeers from his neighbors for doing so, he was vindicated as three people in the vicinity were killed by the band.
It was while Brown was operating his road ranch he acquired the reputation as a "gunman" when he shot and killed an intruder hiding in the bushes. A certain amount of paranoia was justifiable; today's equivalent of road ranches are convenience stores and, just like today, they were vulnerable to robberies. Brown was later acquitted.
While living at the road ranch his daughter, Grace, died. The Brown's purchased land for a cemetery which they named "Graceland" in honor of their child.
Overall, life was good for the Brown family at the road ranch. Occasionally, before the buffalo completely disappeared around 1886, he'd return to his hunting ways participating in the pursuit of the few remaining buffalo.
In 1887, the citizens of the booming town of Meade Center had the Jones and Plummer Trail shifted away from Brown's road ranch. Shortly before, Brown closed his ranch and opened a clothing store in Beaver, Okla. He also operated businesses in Meade Center.
Due to a economic downturn around 1890, he was forced to sell his establishments and move to Oklahoma where Mrs. Brown died in 1902. George's last days were spent at the National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Leavenworth. He lived well into the 20th century.
The origins of the nickname "Hoodoo" are unclear.
Reportedly, he took the moniker to distinguish him from numerous other George Browns.
However, notorious outlaw Hyman G. Neill also used "Hoodoo Brown" as one of his aliases. Further confusing things, Neill founded the notorious "Dodge City Gang" in Las Vegas, New Mexico.